The Big Idaho Potato Truck celebrates 10 years on the road
Ten years ago the Big Idaho Potato Truck hit the road for a year-long tour to celebrate the Idaho Potato Commission’s 75th anniversary. Fast forward a decade and three giant taters later to a national phenomenon that folks still clamor to photograph and share on social media. The Big Idaho Potato Truck was the inspiration for the New Year’s Eve Potato Drop and Big Idaho Potato Hotel, which have both been recognized by media around the globe.
In the 1950s, a drawing of a giant potato featured on a flatbed truck with the slogan “We Grow ‘em Big in Idaho” became an iconic image for the state famous for its 40-count bakers. Folks could only dream of a giant potato until the IPC brought the image to life. The 75th Anniversary Tour of the Big Idaho Potato Truck was such a hit, it’s had 10 encores with no plans of slowing down.
The Big Idaho Potato Truck quickly became the cornerstone of the IPC's marketing programs. “We estimate that every year tens of millions of people see the truck — either in person, on television in the commercials, through social media posts or from all the publicity it generates,” said Jamey Higham, president of IPC. “The Truck has become a part of pop culture in a relatively short period of time. It’s an accomplishment that we’re extremely proud of.”
New Year’s Eve Idaho Potato and the Big Idaho Potato Hotel
One year after the Big Idaho Potato Truck hit the road, the New Year’s Eve Idaho Potato was lowered at the stroke of midnight in front of the Idaho State Capital building before a crowd of 40,000 revelers. Footage of the unique drop gets picked up by news stations all over the world as part of their New Year’s Eve coverage.
When the original potato on the Big Idaho Potato Truck became to road-weary to travel, it was planted in Boise, ID, and has been described as one of the most unique rentals on Airbnb.
Where’s the Truck Going Next?
Over the past 10 years the Big Idaho Potato Truck has participated in some of the biggest events in the country, including the Kentucky Derby, the Hollywood Parade and the Memorial Day Parade in Washington, DC. The truck was invited to the set of American Idol, it drove around the Poconos NASCAR race track and it toured New York City on a barge in the Hudson River.
This year there are several ways for folks to follow the Big Idaho Potato Truck Tour and plenty of opportunities to see it in person.
The truck’s official website, including a calendar of all the truck’s appearances.
Potatotracker.com provides a real-time feed of where to find the oversized spud at any given time.
Social media channels will continue to provide spud lovers with direct interaction with the Tater Team and the latest news on the tour: Facebook, Instagram: @bigidahopotato; and Twitter: #bigidahopotato.
A Big Helping
The charitable component of the Tour, A Big Helping, has worked with more than 200 hundred charities across the country. Most events the Truck is invited to attend have a charity partner. At these events the Tater Team will set up a signature board for folks to sign; for every signature collected one dollar (up to $500) is donated to the non-profit.
When folks first see the Truck, the most frequently asked question is still…Is it real? We’ll never tell, but if it is, it would…
- Make 20,217 servings of mashed potatoes!
- Make more than 1 million average-sized French fries
- Take over 7,000 years to grow!
And in case you’re wondering, the giant fiberglass tater weighs 4 tons, which is approximately the weight of 21,562 medium-sized Idaho potatoes.
Photo: The Idaho Potato Trilogy: New Year's Eve Idaho Potato, Big Idaho Potato Hotel and the Big Idaho Potato Truck Pictured Together for the First Time (Otto Kitsinger/ AP Images for Idaho Potato Commission)